Scripture: Luke 1:11- 21
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him (Zechariah) , standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When he saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
As I was doing my annual reading of the Christmas passages, the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth came alive to me. Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for a child for many years, only to let time steal away their hope for the answer. Then, quite suddenly, Zechariah, now up in age, while being faithful in his service to the Lord, received the promised answer in dramatic fashion. The angel Gabriel announced that God has heard their prayers and that the promised answer was about to come.
Zechariah, stunned by the presence of the angel, immediately gave voice to his fear. Even with the good news of a child to be born, he could still not muster his faith around this good news. He was rendered speechless…whether it was the lack of faith because of his age, or possibly the resulting fear do to the circumstances, we do not know.
Yet as I read this story once again, I was impacted by how a delayed answer creates a void where faith was to reside. When faith drains from our hearts, fear and doubt fill the void. Once fear and doubt are established, they then have the power to steal our voice. When the answer to prayer is delayed, Hell does its best to convince us that it is better to keep quiet about the promise.
Zechariah’s response exposes what had happened in his heart. He could not say “Yes and amen” to the good news, for the fear and doubt had stolen his faith. Rather than rekindling hope and rejoicing in the promise of good news, the lack of faith silenced his voice, even while he continued to go through the motions of his religious practices.
We cannot afford to have our voices silenced. The promises of God cannot be hidden away. Rather, our lips must continue to speak of them as we encourage one another. God is faithful, His promises are “Yes and Amen!” Do not loose your voice in prayer, but give thanks to God and remember to speak of His goodness from generation to generation! – AMEN!